Graven Images: Substitutes for True Morality

Graven Images: Substitutes for True Morality


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Dietrich von Hildebrand provides a uniquely in-depth and astute analysis of the many ways we substitute false idols (the “graven images”) for true Christian morality. This is not a simple book on the differences between good and evil; most people do not replace true morality with pure evil, but with some other “extramoral” good, like “respectability” or “honor.” Hildebrand guides us through these false alternatives, helping to show both what is good in them, but also where they fall short of the uniqueness of true Christian morality.


"When this book first appeared in 1957, it was a whirlwind of fresh air in the field of moral theology and philosophy. The novelty was first of all methodological: the attempt to go back to things themselves and to start an investigation that makes a direct appeal to the lived experience of the inquirer. The task of the philosopher is not that of reading books, combining them in different ways, and then producing a new book. The primary textbook of philosophy is human experience itself and the reader (or, rather, the listener) is called to make an active comparison between what is presented to him and what he experiences in his own life. Philosophy in this sense is not so much a doctrine as an activity: the textbook is human life itself. " — Rocco Buttiglione

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781939773128
Publisher: Dietrich Von Hildebrand Legacy Project
Publication date: 07/02/2019
Pages: 222
Sales rank: 951,355
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.47(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rocco Buttiglione xix

chapter one The Nature of Substitutes 1

chapter two Substitutes and Other Moral Deformations 9

  • General Value-blindness and Moral Value-blindness 9 Traditional Moral Value-blindness and Moral Blindness Due to Pride and Concupiscence 12
  • Formal Moral Value-blindness 19
  • The Specific Deformations Embodied
  • in the Substitute 22
  • Degrees of Deformation 30

chapter three Survey of the Main Substitutes 35

chapter four Naive and Heretic Substitutes 47

chapter five Extramoral Values 55

chapter six Extramoral Values and Pride 77

chapter seven Extramoral Aspects of Moral Values 89

chapter eight Formal Extramoral Norms 103

chapter nine Honor 129

chapter ten Disvalue and Relative Value of the Substitutes 153

chapter eleven Christian Morality 163

Index 187

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